TFN President Calls on Lawmakers to Reject Proposed Anti-Science Legislation
HB 4224 Would Open Door to Teaching Pseudoscience in Public Schools
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 16, 2009
Texas lawmakers should reject proposed legislation that would open the door to teaching pseudoscience in public school science classrooms across the state, Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller said today.
“Lawmakers should call this the ‘Kill Science in Texas Act,’ Miller said. “It would open the door to teaching public school students almost any notion that someone wants to portray as ‘science,’ regardless of what school administrators and real scientists have to say about it. It’s a sure way to put Texas on the fast road to being a national laughingstock.”
House Bill 4224 by state Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, inserts directly into the Texas Education Code a requirement that students learn “strengths and weaknesses” of scientific theories. Evolution opponents have promoted that requirement as a tool for challenging evolution in public school science classes.
Even more troubling, however, is that HB 4224 also forbids any governmental entity from stopping a teacher who offers just about any argument against a scientific theory so long as the teacher portrays it as based on “scientific evidence and information.”
Miller pointed out that in 2007, then-House Appropriations Chairman Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, circulated to fellow Texas lawmakers a memo promoting http://www.fixedearth.com/, a Web site that attacks evolution and argues that the sun revolves around a stationary earth. The memo is available here.
“This bill is so bad that someone could teach that maybe the sun really revolves around the earth, and school administrators couldn’t do anything about it,” Miller said. “Does Texas really need that kind of crazy in the 21st century?”
The “strengths and weaknesses” requirement has been met by overwhelming opposition from Texas scientists, who argue that it opens the door to teaching pseudoscience in public schools. The State Board of Education gave preliminary approval in January to new public school science standards that don’t include the requirement. A final board vote on the standards is expected March 26-27.
Earlier last week, state Rep. Leo Berman filed House Bill 2800, which would exempt certain private nonprofit institutions from regulation by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. The bill would allow the Bible-based Institute for Creation Research in Dallas to offer online master’s degrees in science education even though the Coordinating Board unanimously rejected the ICR’s application to do so last year.
“When politicians can’t see the difference between science and ideology, you know we have a problem,” Miller said. “These two bills would simply make Texas look like an educational backwater that puts politics and ideology ahead of progress. This is hardly a good way to make education policy in the 21st century.”
The Texas Freedom Network is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization of religious and community leaders who advance a mainstream agenda supporting public education, religious freedom and individual liberties.